City go a little Potty

Manchester City blew their chance to go ahead of Manchester United when they were held to a 1-1 draw at Stoke City on Saturday evening. The single point took them back to the top of the Premier League, but with United to play Fulham at Old Trafford on Sunday that lead will be short-lived.

As expected it was a hard fought, physical battle and as the other top teams have found out since 2008, the Britannia Stadium is not the friendliest place in England.

Peter Crouch opened the score for Tony Pulis’ Potters early in the second half and only a powerful strike from Yaya Toure saved a humiliating defeat for Roberto Mancini, but it was a result that cost him valuable points.

Biggest shock of the day was Liverpool losing at Anfield to relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic 2-1. I had expected the Reds to use the opportunity for a goal fest, but the loss now places them in danger of falling past Sunderland and their neighbours Everton on the table.

A penalty as a result of a reckless arm in the face of Victor Moses by Martin Skrtel, gave Wigan an unexpected lead after  30 minutes when Shaun Maloney tucked the ball past Pepe Reina.

The 30-million-pound man Andy Carroll replaced Jordan Henderson for the second half, but that didn’t do much to relieve Kenny Dalglish’s anguish, until a good move by Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard saw Suarez plant the return pass into the back of the net for the equaliser, two minutes into the second half.

A defensive blunder in the 63rd minute saw the ball land at the feet of Gary Caldwell and with all the composure of a forward, the centreback side-footed the ball to give the Latics a historic first victory at Anfield.

After Tottenham and Chelsea played to a goalless draw, Arsenal took full advantage of that lapse to move clear in third place on the table with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Highbury, with goals coming from Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and Mikel Arteta.

Bolton Wanderers moved out of the relegation zone by a point at the expense of QPR after they beat Blackburn 2-1 at the Reebok. A first-half brace from David Wheater was enough to claim all three points despite a 55th minute reply from Steven Nzonzi.

It was the Grant Holt show at Carrow Road when Norwich beat Wolves 2-1, sending Mick McCarthy’s hopes further into the mire. Holt opened the score for Norwich seconds after Matthew Jarvis had put Wolves 1-0 up, with both goals coming in the 25th minute of play.

Just on halftime Holt had a fierce shot superbly blocked by Stephen Ward and Hoolahan’s follow-up was handled in the box by Jonsson and referee Mark Clattenburg pointed to the spot. Holt stepped up and nailed it 2-1.

With five minutes to play the local hero was given a second yellow card and an early shower, but he had done his job to give the Canaries three valuable points.

I had little doubt that QPR would struggle at the Stadium of Light and it was no surprise that they went down 3-1.  Nicklas Bentner’s first-half goal gave the Black Cats a 1-0 lead at the break.

Djibril Cisse’s sending off, 10 minutes into the second half, didn’t help matters for Sparky, with goals from James McClean and Stephane Sessegnon in the 70th and 76th minutes sending the Loftus Rd outfit into the relegation zone. Taye Taiwo pulled one back for QPR three minutes later but it was too little, too late.

In the other match the Swans didn’t manage to spoil David Moyes’ party when they were beaten 2-0 by Everton, Leighton Baines and Nikica Jelavic scoring in the second half for the Toffees to deny Swansea another home victory. — David Blood, SportsCentral.

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